10/12/17 - Legendary rock band Chicago comes to campus
The Notre Dame Band welcomes back the Hall of Fame rock group Chicago to campus! Chicago will join the ND Marching Band for the halftime show during the October 21 rivalry matchup between the Fighting Irish and Trojans of USC. Chicago and Notre Dame share a rich history, as detailed in this 2006 article written by Professor of Jazz Studies, Larry Dwyer:
Very few Notre Dame fans know the historical connection between the University of Notre Dame Band and the formation of the rock group Chicago. Chicago, the band, was formed in 1967 in Chicago, Il., and was one of the first popular groups to make use of band instruments such as trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. This group started out as an experiment but continued on to have a steady parade of hits in the 70s and 80s, and is still touring strong. The band was formed through the creativity of a group of DePaul University music students. The interesting connection to Notre Dame was due to the tutelage of Fr. George Wiskirchen, C.S.C., and former band director to these young players.
Fr. George, who had an illustrious career at the University of Notre Dame from 1972 to 2001, had previously been the band director at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois. His award winning high school jazz bands of the 1960s provided the foundation of musical training and musical composing to get the group started.
Father George Wiskirchen, who, he remembers, "wrote the book on high school jazz lab and big bands," encouraged James Pankow's musical aspirations at Notre Dame High School and who took the young trombone player under his wing. "I played in concert band and marching band," Pankow says, "but the high school jazz band was my saving grace and my real love."
There was always a fond connection between the group Chicago and Fr. George. Chicago band members would often visit Fr. George at Notre Dame and were of particular support during his illness and finally his passing in 2005.